How to Effectively Use the Color Red On Your Web Site

This article  is a continuation of the color, theme and design tips article series that I have been covering on this site. You may want to read the following two articles first (if you haven’t done so already)

In this article I talk about designing with the color RED and how to effectively use it on your site. I will cover the following topics.

  • What the color red means and how it affects the viewer both positively and negatively
  • Why you should use the color red
  • Examples on how to use the color red effectively
  • Best site to use the color red for.

Red is a very bold and powerful color. You can use red to evoke an array of emotions depending on the context the color is used in. Red represents the most physical color in the color spectrum.

First I will start with a little information on how color is perceived and recognized.

Color Recognition and Perception

Color recognition and perception is based on learned information from a multitude of sources:

  • Individual
  • Experienced
  • Social
  • Cultural traditions
  • Environmental surroundings
  • Formal teaching

Each person perceives color differently and this perception depends on the associations the brain has made for that color. Each individual holds in memory a personal “picture” of the meaning of each color name.

Most perception occurs unconsciously and at a high speed so they seem simultaneous with sensation.

What the color red means and the effects it has on the viewer

Red is the most dominant color and will always draw your attention when it is present.

The color red physically activates the adrenaline gland to fire up the body and senses. Red has been deeply integrated in the human brain as a signal to act, re-act or flee.

It can also command us to stop and encourage movement.

Here are some effects red can have on your viewers:

Positive effects of red

  • Powerful
  • Attention Getting
  • Love
  • Excitement
  • Sexy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Motivating
  • Impulsive

Negative effects of red

  • Aggressive
  • Anger
  • Immorality
  • Violent
  • Antagonistic
  • Temperamental
  • Danger

Using a color does not mean that the positive or negative effects will be evoked in the viewer, this all depends on the context the color is used in and how the viewer processes the color.

Why use the color red

You should use the color red because it is an attention getter, sensual and sexy. The saying SEX SELLS is one of  the best ways to explain why you should use the color red. Red is seen as the most sexual and sensual color. Red can muscle through all the other colors to grab the viewer’s attention.

How to effectively use the color red

Red is a bold strong color and the most effective way to use this color is in small amounts.

Here are some effective ways to use the color red.

Website Design:

  • A red button to draw your viewers attention so they are more likely to click that button
  • A red arrow pointing out a button or other object you want the viewer to see
  • A note, warning or instruction you need the viewer to read
  • To make something important stand out
  • Special offers
  • Sale prices
  • To create passion or strong emotional reactions to a subject

Graphic/Interior Design:

  • To draw the eye away from a flaw you can not change in the design
  • To make something standout like a logo or statement piece
  • To warm up a project or room
  • To add a sexy or sensual mood to a project
  • To create passion or strong emotional reactions to a project or design element

Other Ways to Use the Color Red:

  • To stimulate the appetite this is great for restaurants or food sites. If you think about it, how many restaurants do you know that have red in their logo or design? You will find most of them do, this is because it stimulates your appetite when you see the color red in relation to food.

Best Types of Sites to Use the Color Red

There are certain types of sites that you can use larger amounts of RED to get a positive and effective reaction from a viewer.

  • Dating and relationship sites – Reds (especially deep reds) and pinks are great for these types of sites. They evoke the emotion of love, passion and romance.
  • Fitness and exercise sites – Red gets your heart rate up and can encourage and motivate you.
  • Food site – As I explained above, red stimulates your appetite. This has a good change to increase your food product sales or restaurant bookings. It is proven that if you shop for groceries while hungry you will buy more food than you intended to.
  • Sites selling make-up or beauty products – Red is a very dominant color in make-up and beauty products as it is synonymous with sexy.

Red is a very powerful color especially when it is used properly. Remember too much red can be over stimulating and cause strong feelings either positive or negative.  Pink is a great substitute for red and still has many of the same affects on the viewer.

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Comments (6 responses)

  1. Jon says:

    Interesting… to know how the colour psychology can work on websites. there is VW research that proves red and black as the colours for speed. love the idea on using red on buttons.

  2. kanan says:

    Thanks for sharing. I also use red(Maroon) color for my food website
    I love reading all your posts. please keep posting.

  3. Martin says:

    Love the idea of red on buttons and arrows, but not so much on logos. You always have to weigh the pros and cons and to me red is just too obnoxious for logos. I really enjoy these articles because they introduce an interesting design strategy that many people overlook.

  4. Nina says:

    Thank you SO much, I love these articles!

  5. David says:

    Interesting… The color psychology really matches my friend’s and my actions and feeling. Very inspiring…
    GREAT WORK!

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